Tradition and Innovation, Permanence and Change
Last year, to celebrate its 80th anniversary, the Nagoya University of Commerce & Business (NUCB) – part of the Kurimoto Education Institute – completed the Nagoya Marunouchi Tower in Nagoya’s Naka district. The new campus now houses NUCB Business School’s MBA program. The architectural firm Tatenaka oversaw the planning and construction of the 17,800-square-meter, 90-meter tall building and developed the its overarching design concept of merging innovation and tradition.
Dr. Yuichi Kurimoto, head of the institute as well as the university’s chancellor, and the principal architect, Mr. Machida, visited several venerable European and American business schools. Both wanted to get an idea of what a new business school tasked with grooming Asia’s top managers should look like. They focused on identifying which elements would be likely change over time and which ones would remain spatially and temporally consistent. They also looked at the key architectural characteristics of a business school. Combining traditional European and American styles with their own ideas, the architect and the chancellor gradually developed their own scheme for the new school.
Dr. Kurimoto explains the concept using the principle of “flow and constancy” by the famous Japanese haiku poet Matsuo Bashō. Constancy and flow are contrary ideas, yet just as the beauty of haiku poetry lies in clearly distinguishing essential elements to be preserved across all ages and those that change with the times, maintaining the equilibrium between constancy and change is the secret to achieving continuity of all things.
Dr. Kurimoto’s institute and European universities have one thing in common: they both developed from religious schools. The Kurimoto Educational Institute’s roots go back to a Buddhist temple; some European schools used to be monasteries. This shared background and Tatenaka’s observations led to the idea of merging tradition and modernity: the building’s lower floors display a gothic style, contrasted with a very modern glass façade reaching toward the sky.
A gothic arcade modeled after a cloister characterizes the first and second floor. On the one hand, it stands for tradition; on the other, it represents harmony between society and science. It is literally the school’s foundation. MBA classes will be held in the rooms above the third floor. The state-of-the-art floors house lecture halls and research labs, spaces for group work, individual workstations and common areas.
When selecting furniture for these rooms, Dr. Kurimoto chose USM. His first encounter with USM dates back more than ten years, when he noticed a counter at a car rental company at the Geneva Airport. At the time, he was unaware that it was a USM product. Later, in a showroom in the Marunouchi district, he once again ran into USM furniture, which he initially purchased to outfit his office. Thanks to the furniture’s functionality, he then equipped the entire business school with USM products.
Traditionally, the desks in business-school classrooms are arranged in the shape of a horseshoe in order to stimulate discussion among students. All other areas, such as research labs, libraries, rooms for group work, conference rooms or communal spaces, are subject to changing requirements. They, therefore, need innovative custom concepts. USM makes versatile pieces of furniture that seem to be made for just those purposes. The dominant color is ruby red, which radiates serenity and can be found throughout the campus.